It amazes me that we must continually have conversations about how dangerous wild bears are and that people shouldn't approach them. Trolls' constant attempts to mislead people don't help.

Bears are dangerous; you might run into one if you're in bear country. It doesn't matter if you're in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, or any other part of Wyoming; if there are bears, there is a potential for danger.

I've been seeing people on Facebook groups telling others that if they are on the 'boardwalk' section of a National Park, they're safe and don't need to carry bear spray or other safety tools. That's not true.

Bears don't have boundary lines, and you're in their house.

Safety should always be your first thought; being prepared is critical. You shouldn't ever have to wonder if you should be carrying bear spray and always know what to do if you encounter a bear. That's why the Wyoming Game and Fish Department offers Bear Wise Wyoming information.

If you visit areas around Wyoming where bears are present, you should be ready for an encounter.

  • Stay a minimum of 100 yards away.
  • Use bear boxes where provided, and make sure not to give a bear easy access to food.
  • Never intentionally get close to a bear. They're not a fan of selfies.
  • Keep your area clean. Put trash where trash belongs.
  • You should never have pets that are not under physical restraint.
Safety Is Important When You're In Wyoming's Bear Country
@IBAbearbiology via YouTube
Safety Is Important When You're In Wyoming's Bear Country
@IBAbearbiology via YouTube

Know how to differentiate between bear species.

  • Black Bear
    • No shoulder hump
    • The face is straight from nose to ears
    • Ears are pointed and tall
    • Short front claws
    • Quite a bit smaller than grizzly bears
    • Areas found: Forests, Canyons, Sub-Alpine, River Basins
  • Grizzly Bear
    • Distinctive shoulder hump
    • Short face.
    • Short and rounded ears
    • Long front claws
    • Adults are larger than black bears. Males can be up to 800 lbs and females up to 400 lbs, and young grizzlies are smaller and could be confused with a black bear.
    • Areas found: Open Fields, Sub-Alpine, River Basins

You should always carry bear spray and know how to use it.

You would much rather have bear spray and not need to use it than not have it and need it. There are options for bear spray rentals, but if you're going to be in bear country often, buying it will give you peace of mind.

Also, inert training bottles can be purchased and used to practice using the spray. You can stop at any WGFD office in the state, and they will show you how to use bear spray properly and safely.

Safety Is Important When You're In Wyoming's Bear Country
Drew Kirby, TSM

If you will be in bear country, know how to act, react, and be prepared.

  • Bear spray is to be used on a charging bear or in an aggressive encounter.
  • It sprays out 25-30 feet and creates a 4-foot cloud.
  • Each member of the party should carry bear spray.
  • Bear Spray must be carried where it is readily accessible.
  • Make sure the spray is in working order and that it has not expired (labels are dated)
  • It should NOT be used as a repellent or put on tents, gear, etc.

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